Florida evacuations underway as Dorian draws near

Donald Trump. Photo: White House video screengrab

Sept. 1 (UPI) — Mandatory evacuations were ordered Sunday for parts of Florida as Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm and edged northwestward.

The hurricane was 205 miles east of West Palm Beach, Fla., at 11 a.m. Sunday, and a hurricane watch was in effect from north of Deerfield Beach to the Volusia/Brevard County Line. Storm surge and tropical storm warnings also were in effect for portions of the Florida coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

Florida and other coastal states braced for the storm, while hoping that a northward turn would spare a direct hit.

Officials issued mandatory evacuation orders as of 1 p.m. Sunday for residents of Palm Beach and Martin counties in mobile homes, substandard housing, low-lying areas, barrier islands and surge-vulnerable areas along the coast, the Florida Division of Emergency Management said.

The evacuation orders affect about 215,000 people and include President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

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“In addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “Looking like one of the largest hurricanes ever. Already category 5. BE CAREFUL! GOD BLESS EVERYONE!”

Alabama is not in the path of the storm, the National Weather Service confirmed on Twitter.

Voluntary evacuations were in effect for parts of Osceola, Okeechobee, Indian River, Highlands, Hendry and Glades counties. A mandatory evacuation order for Brevard County was delayed until 8 a.m. Monday after the hurricane’s path was expected to turn north.

“I’ve been in constant communication with President @realDonaldTrump, @fema officials as well as the governors of neighboring states in #Dorian’s path,” Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted Sunday afternoon. “The President has assured all of us that we have his full support. We are in this together.”

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